We have peeled many, many apples recently.A few years ago this handy little gadget came into our lives. It peels, cores, and slices the apples all at once. These functions are handy, of course, but the thingamajig’s real value lies in its ability to produce a lengthy, swirling, snaking apple peel that can stretch clear across the kitchen and be used as a jump rope. (Note: jumping rope with a fresh apple peel may cause juice to fly all over your kitchen.) The girls find the apple peels irresistible both as toys and as snacks, and I love the sight of all the sticky little-girl fingers cradling tangles of this healthy treat.
But recently I sneaked a bowl for myself to try out this wacky idea of making apple peel tea (technically a “tisane,” apparently, as no tea leaves are involved). I steeped them in hot water with a cinnamon stick and a touch of vanilla and, I must say, I quite liked the result. This isn’t the hearty flavor of apple cider; instead it’s a light and unmistakeably apple-y infusion. Mine was a little pink from the red apple peels.
My kids observed that it tasted like watered-down juice. That might not sound like a compliment, but I think I liked it precisely because they were right. (We sometimes make watered-down “hot juice” as a hot beverage in cold weather. Is that a thing? Adding hot water to cold juice? Does anyone else do that?) And aside from the warmth-and-comfort factor, making something from nothing always makes me a little gleeful. You know how I like that.
You don’t need fancy apple peels for this project, of course. Try it out next time you bake a pie or peel an apple for your finicky toddler. You’ll probably want to use unsprayed and unwaxed apples, though, which are abundant at farmers’ markets at this time of year.
Apple Peel Tea (inspired by The Kitchn*): Combine 4 c. apple peels and 4 c. cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add 1 cinnamon stick and a little splash of pure vanilla extract. Simmer for 45-60 minutes. Strain into mugs and sweeten to taste with honey.
*By way of illustrating the flexibility here, I will tell you that The Kitchn’s recipe recommends simmering a handful of apple peels in a saucepan of water for 5-10 minutes. I personally preferred the stronger flavor produced by the higher ratio of peels and the longer simmering time I recommend above, but if you only have a handful of peels and five minutes, don’t let that stop you.